By Karen Reed, Managing Editor at Positive Health Wellness
Obesity is a growing concern in the Western world. More children and teenagers are suffering from being overweight and it’s leading to a range of health problems. Some turn to eating disorders, while others yo-yo diet constantly. Being overweight and obese doesn’t just affect the physical health, but the mental health and self-esteem.
Encourage your teenager to lose weight is important. You can help them eat healthier and reduce their calorie intakes while boosting their fitness levels. But how do you help teenagers that think the world is against them? How can you give them a boost when their hormones are spiking, and they have no idea how to do it all?
Sometimes it’s all about looking at the health principals. These are the seven you’ll want to focus on to help teenagers lose weight.
Focus on an Adequate Number of Calories
There’s no point in telling teenagers to reduce the number of calories they eat. Many will take it too far and eat far less than their bodies need to survive. Others just don’t understand how many is too many. While they reduce their calorie intake, they don’t reduce it enough for their metabolism.
Wanting your teenagers to eat enough is essential. So, let them know about the minimum number of calories their bodies are going to need. On average, the body needs at least 1,200 calories just to survive daily. This doesn’t include the calories needed if they are active and do a lot of exercises! This is an adult too.
Of course, this is on average. Your teen isn’t likely to have the average body. The number of calories your child’s body will burn depends on age, gender, and weight. Children are still growing, so their metabolisms are much higher.
Don’t drop anything less than 13 calories for each pound in weight. This will offer the support for growing, as well as the daily tasks. So, a child that weights 200lbs will need around 2,600 calories. That’s lot more than the recommended 2,000 calories to maintain a healthy weight and the 1,200 calories that experts say is the bare minimum.
If your teenager does exercise, the number of calories may need to increase a little. This will depend on whether your doctor is worried about the weight loss.
Don’t Focus on Quick Weight Loss Results
Too many people want to lose weight and lose it right now. It’s understandable considering the amount of focus is put on weight and looks. But this isn’t something you want to encourage your teenager. To help teenagers lose weight healthily, put the focus on a healthy and slow weight loss.
Don’t encourage losing any more than 2lbs a week. This is already a lot, especially for teenagers. Losing more than 2lbs a week consistently means they are going to impact their health negatively. They aren’t getting the calories mentioned above. They can impact their growth and build while losing more water and muscle instead of just fat.
And that’s not all! Fast weight losses are bad for the metabolism. If you encourage too much, the metabolism will go into a starvation mode. It slows down believing that you don’t need to burn as many calories to survive. The limited calories your teenager once ate will cause weight maintenance or gain. This can lead to reducing the calories further and affecting the health negatively even more.
It’s a never-ending cycle. The metabolic rate is one of the hardest things to speed up again. In fact, your teenager is likely to struggle with a slow metabolism for the rest of their life, no matter what they do.
Losing weight quickly is also detrimental to the energy levels. Remember your teenager needs a specific number of calories to get through the day. The body is doing so much to help your teenager grow and develop. By reducing the calories and losing a lot of weight in a short space of time, you cause a dip in the energy levels. Teenagers are more likely to suffer dips in cognitive function and that can affect their school work.
The mental health is also going to take a dip, as losing weight is tiring and hard. Putting the pressure on to lose a lot of weight in a short space of time can seem impossible and teenagers are less likely to stick with the diet. When they know they can lose a little each week and remain healthy, their determination is supported.
Focus on a Healthy Diet
Losing weight isn’t just about reducing calories. There should be a focus on getting the right types of foods in the diet. This means focusing on food groups that will help to support the growing body of the teenager. Some of this will be the same as for you, it’s just the amounts that differ!
Teenagers need to get the right vitamins and minerals. Calcium, vitamin D, iron, and folic acid are all extremely important. They help with the development and strength of the bones, boosting the oxygenated blood flow, improve the cognitive development and improve hormonal balance within the body.
Your teenager will get up to a lot throughout the day. Having strong bones and muscles is essential. The imbalance in hormones can make it much harder for the body to absorb all the nutrients the body needs. That’s why you need to encourage more through the diet and even through health supplements.
With a healthy diet, your teenager will find it much easier to enjoy food and lose weight. The healthiest foods are among those with the lowest calories!
Don’t forget about the fat content in foods. Your teenager needs fat, which means whole fat milk and yogurts are good for them. Don’t push them onto a low-fat diet just yet—studies show that low-fat foods aren’t necessarily the best for helping to reduce weight anyway as they contain more sugars.
Low-carb diets are not good for teenagers. There is absolutely no need for teenagers to cut out all carbs from their diet. In fact, they need carbs for energy! The best option is both health and balance in the foods they eat.
Discourage Refined Sugar from the Diet
While low-carb diets and low-fat diets aren’t necessarily, look out for diets that encourage low refined sugar intakes. Sugar is the biggest reason for health problems and obesity in the Western world.
Your teenager likely has a high sugar diet without you really considering it. They drink fruit juice, enjoy candy bars now and then, drink soda and eat cookies and cakes. Even if you limit the intake to once a day, the sugars are affecting your teen’s overall health. In fact, they’re affecting your overall health.
There’s no need to get any sugar other than natural sugars. And you want to get these natural sugars with other food groups, especially starches and fiber. That means fruit juice is a no-no, especially daily. Keep it as a one-off now and then.
You’ll know that sugars cause the blood’s glucose levels to spike. You may have heard that the glucose levels lead to insulin spikes and eventually lead to Type II diabetes. This is a growing concern in children and teenagers, as more sugars are introduced to the diet at a young age. Refined sugars are just full of empty calories. The foods offer no nutritional benefits, and that includes fruit juices! All the vitamins and fibers have been removed from the juice so you’re just drinking sugary water.
When you get more sugar, your metabolism takes a hit. You increase the chance of various health problems, including metabolic syndrome and heart disease. The sugars can also affect the hormones, making the teenage years worse. And of course, the sugars are high in calories, making weight loss harder.
By discouraging refined sugars and empty calories, you can increase the weight loss efforts. Not all sugars have to be banned but opt for natural ones through whole fruits, milk, and even a small amount of dark chocolate. The small sugar intake will help to boost weight loss efforts, improve the health, and minimize the sugar cravings daily.
Encourage More Exercise the Right Way
Boost activity levels in your teenager for healthy weight loss. This isn’t just about increasing speed or the number of repetitions that are done in an exercise, but about doing the exercises correctly. 13-15-year-olds don’t need to worry about the number of bodyweight exercises they do but should focus more on performing the exercises properly and well. This will help to develop the muscles to build on that in their later teenage years.
Start with more aerobic exercise than bodyweight and strength training. Teenagers burn more calories daily than adults, so need around 60 minutes of exercise daily. This can be hard to fit in, which is why there is a focus on schools keeping physical education in their curriculums; it’s often the only way children get the exercise into their day.
Don’t focus on the calories burned when exercising or on the intensity put in. Focus on the amount of quality exercise they do. Find something they enjoy doing regularly, whether it’s a team sport or just going for a run on their own.
Consider all the health benefits of exercise. Focus more on the feeling after a workout and the way they feel good. You can even lead by example and get out there with your teen.
If your teenager hasn’t exercised in a long time, jumping straight into an extensive routine can be dangerous. Encourage improving the activity a little at a time. Start one week by walking to school one day a week and then increase that by a day each week. Soon enough your teen will forget that they were ever dropped off at school!
By focusing on form and slow increases, your teen will develop the muscles in the right way. The joints and tissues are protected, helping to decrease the chance of injuries. This will help to protect the mental health, as teens are likely to view exercise as the enemy.
Look More at Good Body Image
Being overweight is hard in high school. Other teenagers are mean, and they will pick up on the slightest thing. Having a good body image is essential, especially when it comes to tackling the weight outside of school.
As teens try to lose weight, there is the risk that they will give into eating disorders. Anorexia, bulimia, and even binge eating are all major problems for teenagers and they can go months without being diagnosed at first. Some aren’t diagnosed for a long time. This isn’t a case of “getting over it” and changing the way they eat. Eating disorders are a mental health issue and require a lot of work on all sides for sufferers to change the way they view food and calories.
The best thing you can do is encourage a healthy body image right away. Girls and boys can suffer from self-esteem and confidence issues. They can body develop poor body images, looking at the way they believe they should look through magazines and on TV. Spend time discussing the images in magazines and how they’re airbrushed. It’s also worth talking to teens about how models and celebrities look after their bodies.
Encourage your teen to be the best version of themselves that they can be. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be thin. However, focus on health and avoid comparing against others too much.
Find a Good Support Network
When it comes to teenage health, have a support network is essential. This is especially beneficial when it comes to healthy weight loss. Your teen is not the only one struggle to lose weight daily and enjoy school because of their weight. It’s important to find groups, whether in person or online.
The support groups don’t need to have the exact goals in mind. While some teenagers will be more interested in being fitter, others want to lose weight or just improve their body image. All three can work together, as they tend to all involve similar methods to ditch the obesity.
Peer support is important, but it’s also worth getting support from those in positions of authority. Your teen will need to know guidance counselors, doctors, and sometimes therapists are on the side. They need to know you’re there to support them or that other family members are available. This can mean simply asking how the healthy eating plan or exercise is going. Feeling like you’re acknowledging their hard work will help them continue for themselves; they feel good about it and want to continue that feeling.
Losing weight as a teenager isn’t about cutting calories. You want to focus on the health principals. This will help to support physical, mental, and emotional health. It’s possible to avoid eating disorders and low confidence levels while boosting the number of nutrients your teenager gets daily. You’re setting your teenager up for success in the future.
Source: Positive Health Wellness